Anti-Drone Rifle Serves US Troops in Iraq

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The advent and proliferation of small, cheap drones has had a lasting effect on the battlefields of the 21st century, where the devices have been used in myriad ways, from Syria to Ukraine.

A Battelle DroneDefender anti-drone rifle was recently seen in a photo taken at the American Fire Base Bell outside Makhmour, Iraq. The presence of a U.S. anti-drone system, while a seemingly sensible counter-measure against the Islamic State’s fondness for using the remote-controlled aircraft, is a small glimpse into how the American military is adapting to evolving battlefield threats in the wake of its two protracted ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the manufacturer Battelle’s website, the rifle utilizes a non-kinetic solution to defend airspace up to 400m against UAS, such as quadcopters and hexacopters, without compromising safety or risking collateral damage. The remote control and GPS disruption responses are both fast acting, resulting in instant threat mitigation.

The system has the ability to disrupt the user’s control link to their drone as well as its ability to sync with a GPS network.

According to the Washington Post, it is unclear what type of frequency the rifle uses to attack its target, but the size of the dual front-mounted antennas suggest that the disruption pulse is distributed across multiple radio frequency bands.

The rifle can hit a drone in a 30-degree cone and can be ready to use and fire in less than a second.

Aside from the antennas and the attached battery pack, the anti-drone rifle appears to be very similar to the M-16/M-4 series of rifles carried by U.S. troops.

While small drones can be used to observe enemy locations, they can also be used to coordinate indirect-fire weapons such as mortars, rockets and artillery. Indirect-fire weapons are often fired beyond the line of sight of their intended target, making the presence of an observer that can see where the rounds are impacting invaluable.

The commander of the Marine unit stationed at Fire Base Bell recently told reporters that the base came under numerous rocket attacks during the unit’s 60-day stay there. It is unclear if the Islamic State used a drone to make their strikes more accurate, but its likely that the terror group used the small devices to at least perform some type of reconnaissance prior to targeting the American contingent.